Amherst, MA -- Change and excitement were in the air. The Williams College women's cross country team raced in the famous Little Three meet at Amherst with the Mammoths and the Wesleyan Cardinals as their season opener for the first time ever. Despite this, the women were looking to race smart and well, and were aiming to claim their eleventh straight title at the meet. Along with the excitement for the race came the anticipation of a new course. The Eph women faced a new Amherst course: a 4k race featuring narrow gates, mixed terrain, and an uphill finish that made for a thrilling time.
The hint of a fall chill gave the Ephs some comfort after a very warm pre-season. Despite the clouds and coolness, the women ran a very fast and heated race, one with close finishes, fast kicks and incredibly valiant efforts. In the end, the Williams women succeeded in their goal, finishing first with 33 points to their name. Wesleyan, whose leader Julia Mitchell finished first overall, came in second with 36 points. Amherst, came in third with 54 points.
The Williams women displayed not only their solid base of nine top twenty finishers, but also their promise for the upcoming season.
JWesleyan's Julia Mitchell flew into the finish in 15:33 to claim the overall top spot as well as the top place for Wesleyan. Merely ten seconds later, the first three Ephs finished. Juniors Emma Herrmann and Audrey Rustad and senior captain Emily Harris ran 15:36, 15:37 and 15:40 respectively, each finishing smart races in second, third and fourth place. Sophomore Jaylan Fraser-Mines came in next for Williams, finishing a very strong fourth for the Ephs and eleventh overall. Following close behind were sophomore Sarah Tully who came in thirteenth overall at 16:15 and freshman Grace Dailey, who made huge strides to claim fourteenth place overall in 16:21. Sophomore Erica Barrett rounded out the top seven for Williams finishing sixteenth overall with a time of 16:31.
The next herd of Ephs was led by freshman Abby Scott who finished at 16:43 after leading a very strong middle pack. Junior Janelle Gowgiel crossed the finish line soon after, finishing a second later at 16:44. Head coach Pete Farwell noted that Gowgiel has improved significantly since last season, making great progress over summer. Sophomore Brianna Bourne kicked in two seconds later at 16:46 to round out the top twenty finishers for the Williams women.
Senior captain Lindsay Klickstein led the next pack of Ephs to the finish line, coming in at a strong 16:51. She was followed by four Ephs who all worked hard to finish together after a challenging course. Along with Klickstein came freshman Lilly Wells, sophomore Caroline Galo and Junior Hannah Lebowitz, who finished at 16:59, and 17:08 for both Galo and Lebowitz, respectively. Coming in soon after were freshmen Sarah Jane O'Connor, who finished at 17:19 and Lauren Fossel, who finished at 17:23, to run incredibly solid first colligate races. Junior Adrienne Banks came in merely four seconds later at 17:27 and was soon joined at the finish line by freshman Emma Tapscott and sophomore Wyndom Chace, who both finished strong at 17:38 and 17:54 respectively. The Ephs rounded out their successful meet with strong finishes from junior Julia Gunther, who finished at 18:34, and from Tori Saltz, who finished at 19:33.
The Ephs, unlike in the past, were unsure of where they might finish, as this was their season opener, and the Little Three Meet traditionally occurs in October. Pete Farwell stated that "this is very early for this meet… we have had a lot of good summers and a lot of our runners have stepped up after the departure of a lot of strong seniors and juniors abroad." He remains confident that through the "important team building" that has continued through the first week, the Ephs will "pull us together to move up as a team. The sky is the limit."
On September 22, Williams College will be hosting its annual Purple Valley Classic, the home course for the Ephs that weaves through Mt. Greylock Regional High School. The women's race begins at 1:00pm. The following week on September 29, the women will head to the Saratoga Invite at RPI.